Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a kind of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that is used to treat borderline personality disorder and other mental health problems. This therapeutic technique teaches people diverse coping skills in four primary areas, including mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness, to help them deal with challenging emotions and lessen conflicts in their relationships.

DBT promotes growth and discourages harmful behaviors by providing structure and strengthening coping skills. DBT is an emotion-focused treatment that focuses on the premise that acceptance and change, two polar opposites in therapy, may be reconciled.

Although DBT is most typically used to treat borderline personality disorder and recurrent suicidal behavior, it can also be used to treat eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and other mental health diseases. The total duration of care is usually at least six months.

How DBT Works

DBT teaches people to accept their ideas, feelings, and experiences without judgment. Individuals learn to concentrate on one thing at a time while remaining aware of their thoughts and sensations. People learn to recognize, verbalize, and comprehend their emotions by thoroughly observing, describing, and experiencing them. Distress tolerance skills teach individuals how to tolerate and handle distress without behaving rashly in order to avoid long-term pain from escalating. People learn about emotional regulation abilities, which aid in understanding, identifying, and dealing with emotional responses. Interpersonal effectiveness abilities teach people how to speak assertively with others. People also learn how to handle and manage interpersonal tension.

Patients suffering from mental illnesses, such as those prone to outbursts of extreme emotion, are more likely to indulge in substance misuse as a kind of self-medication. Addiction treatment facilities are increasingly incorporating DBT into their treatment plans. Some of DBT’s fundamental concepts, such as strengthening communication skills, coping skills, and self-image, are instrumental in guiding individuals suffering from addiction to wean themselves off of drugs.

The Treatment Modalities

Dialectical behavior therapy typically consists of four main components: 

Individual Counseling: Individual therapy teaches recovering addicts how to use strategies gained in skill training workshops in real-world circumstances.

Individual treatment is held once a week for the duration of the DBT program. Therapy sessions are customized to the characteristics of the recovering addict. Therapists can next assist the addict in determining how to effectively utilize his or her newly acquired abilities.

Skills Training : Group leaders teach coping and communication skills — such as how to use emotional regulation, mindfulness, or distress tolerance — which patients can practice in their daily interactions and routines. Skills training sessions run around two hours and meet once a week for about 24 weeks.

Phone Coaching: When challenging events arise outside of individual treatment or skills training sessions, recovering addicts can contact their therapists. The therapist will teach the recovering addict how to regulate feelings and cope with stress using emotional regulation and distress tolerance strategies.

Team Consultation: Team consultation focuses on therapists and other healthcare providers rather than patients. Team consultation helps therapists stay motivated to deliver the best treatment possible for difficult-to-treat patients.

In addition to these components, recovering addicts will have homework tasks to complete. These may include keeping a record of their daily actions, desires, and emotions.

What to Expect During DBT

Individual therapy sessions and group sessions where skills are taught and practiced are part of DBT treatment. Individual therapy sessions are held with a DBT therapist who helps patients retain motivation, manage hurdles throughout treatment, and integrate skills gained in therapy in daily life.

A DBT therapist leads DBT group therapy sessions. Weekly sessions educate participants on the many DBT skills and provide opportunities for them to practice and apply them in a supportive group setting. Sessions usually are two hours long. Members in group therapy are encouraged to share their experiences and support one another. Many times, homework is provided to be performed between sessions in order to increase the practice of DBT skills in everyday life.

The Advantages

Although DBT was initially established to help high-risk women with borderline personality disorder and recurrent suicidality, it is now used to assist anyone with mental health disorders connected with emotional dysregulation. Depression, eating disorders, and addiction are examples of mental health concerns.

DBT teaches people to manage powerful emotions while minimizing impulsivity and harmful behavior. Skill modules and treatment modalities allow practitioners to tailor DBT to a wide range of mental health disorders, expanding who can benefit from DBT.

Find the Treatment You Deserve

Fighting drug addiction necessitates medical competence, but remaining sober necessitates stress management abilities. Addiction treatment facilities provide therapy such as DBT to promote a healthy mind throughout recovery and to avoid relapse. If you or someone you love is dealing with an addiction, a DBT-focused treatment program may be able to assist you.

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